Friday, January 5, 2018

Cultural Preferences vs. Scriptural Mandates

The longer one is in the Church, the more one is enveloped in its culture, both Christian culture generally and specifically the culture of the local church one attends. There are cultural shifts within any particular church’s culture, some seen across decades, others across weeks, and still others that move glacially slowly across centuries. This is equally true of parachurch ministries, but an extra layer of corporate business culture is added to the church culture that defines these organizations.

Whatever the nature of your church or parachurch culture, we must see it clearly enough to keep its cultural preferences distinct from genuine scriptural mandates. To rephrase, we must hold tightly to scriptural mandates, and more loosely hold to our cultural preferences. Let’s not confuse the two. Let’s also understand which ones are worth fighting for and which are not even worth an argument.

Cultural preferences relate to matters like:
·        Musical styles
·        Hair styles
·        Clothing
·        Tattoos
·        Jewelry
·        Architecture
·        Language
·        Church polity
·        Educational issues
·        Sport
·        Technology
·        Art
·        Icons

Scriptural mandates are much more important, far less fuzzy, and much more demanding (short list):
·        34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
·        12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is [l]the perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
·        30 and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

You and I, our families, our churches, our parachurch ministries, our friends, our enemies, everybody will have their cultural preferences. Wonderful. Let’s not allow those preferences to separate us from each other. Let’s certainly not let them compromise our commitment to the scriptural mandates to love God, to love our neighbor, to put on hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. May our hearts, full of Christ Jesus’ Spirit, permeate and transform each and every culture we inhabit, one heart at a time.

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